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(CNN) - New Zealand authorities are conducting search and rescue operations on the White Island, off the coast of the North Island, after a volcano erupted on Monday afternoon.
At least five people have been confirmed dead, and authorities have warned that they do not believe there are survivors on the island.
It is believed that less than 50 people had been on or near the volcano when it erupted, including about 30 passengers on a Royal Caribbean cruise. A total of 23 people were rescued from the island, including the five who died. At least 10 people are still missing, police said.
Follow here the latest news about the volcano eruption in New Zealand:
Police say "there are no signs of life" on the island
The eruption occurred on Monday when dozens of tourists, including several from an Ovation of the Seas cruise ship, were near the volcano.
Police say they don't believe there are survivors on White Island, according to the latest update of their website.
"No signs of life have been seen at any time," the statement said. "According to the information we have, we don't believe there are survivors on the island."
Police added that "they are working urgently to confirm the exact number of deaths, in addition to the five confirmed deaths."
Police previously estimated that at least 10 people were still missing on the island.
In the early light of Tuesday morning (local time), a New Zealand Defense Force ship will deploy drones and observation equipment to assess the environment and the situation, police said in the statement.
"It is believed that both New Zealanders and foreign tourists are involved, and some came from the Ovation of the Seas cruise," the police added.
The dead are of "various nationalities"
Initial information following the eruption was scarce, as New Zealand's emergency helicopters and ambulances rushed to the city of Whakatane.
“Whakaari / White Island is erupting. More information soon, ”GeoNet announced in a notice on its official Twitter.
Photos from the official New Zealand geological hazard information site, Geonet, showed a huge column of white smoke rising over the island on Monday afternoon local time.
The images of the chambers of the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS) of a crater on the island seemed to show a group of people near the crater minutes before the eruption.
Both locals and tourists have been caught in the disaster, police said in a statement earlier that day.
More than 30 Ovation of the Seas tourists were on White Island at the time of the eruption, the executive director of the New Zealand Cruise Association, Kevin O'Sullivan, told CNN.
"Our hope is that everyone recovers quickly and without damage," he said. The Ovation of The Seas is one of the largest cruise ships in the world, according to Royal Caribbean operators.
Deputy Commissioner Tims said the victims were of a "range of nationalities," but made no further comments. He said that of the 23 people who had been evacuated from the island earlier in the day, all were injured, and some suffered serious burns.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed on Twitter on Monday that Australians were involved in the volcanic eruption. "Australians have been trapped in this terrible event and we are working to determine their well-being," he wrote.
Police say most injured evacuees suffer burns
Emergency services transport one of the injured in the volcanic explosion on White Island, New Zealand. (Alan Gibson / New Zealand Herald via AP)
A total of 23 people were rescued from the island, and the injured were taken to the hospital, authorities said at a press conference earlier this afternoon.
Of those injured patients, most suffer burns, said John Tims, deputy police commissioner.
Ken Gledhill of GNS, the main land science agency in New Zealand, said that the volcanic eruption was not really very large compared to other eruptions, but that it had been fatal because there were people on the island at the time of the eruption .
White Island is the only active marine volcano in New Zealand, and a popular tourist site
White Island, or Whakaari, is located off the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand in the Bay of Plenty.
It is the only active marine volcano in the country, and has had regular eruptions since 2012.
However, the eruptions are usually minor, and the island is still a popular tourist destination. According to the GeoNet geological monitor, more than 10,000 people visit the island every year.
Tourism agencies often offer ocean cruises near the island or guided tours of the volcano's internal crater. Many also usually travel by helicopter over the island.
Video shows a helicopter that looks "destroyed" near the volcano
Michael Schade, a tourist who had been on the volcano shortly before it erupted, was leaving the island in the boat when he saw a helicopter that looked "destroyed."
The video he took shows a helicopter with the rotor blades broken and bent, and the ground around it covered with ashes. Then, the camera moves to show columns of dark smoke that still come from the crater of the volcano.
It is not clear who was operating the helicopter or if there was anyone inside. Tourists often take helicopter rides over the volcanic island, and emergency services sent several helicopters to the island after the eruption.
volcanic eruption New Zealand New Zealand